We only have one physical life on earth (as far as we know!) and whatever life throws at you there is always reason to celebrate. We can celebrate being a lovely child, being kind, being hopeful, being productive, being useful, being a great parent and being happy to name a few. Sometimes life throws difficult challenges and behaviours at us but it is how we live our lives that matters.
However a life has been lived, it is important to celebrate that life. As the funeral industry evolves and people make very new and different choices about what happens when they pass away, it is a responsibility for those left behind, not only to convey their loved ones wishes, but to celebrate the life that they have lived.
My role as a Celebrant is to help families at a time of sadness and often turmoil to create a unique and bespoke ceremony that reflects and celebrates the life of their lost family member or friend.
For me, the relevance of song lyrics, to style and content of poems and readings along with the theme or atmosphere at a ceremony are all such important factors to be carefully considered when drafting a ceremony. The farewell ceremony must be true to the loved on who has passed but equally as true to the family and friends left behind. It could be a formal, sad mournful ceremony and if that is right for the family, that is what must be created, but more often it will be smiles and laughter among the tears with special amusing stories and song choices in the mix.
Family dynamics is such an important factor. Even where families were not close or a parent/relative who has passed may have been difficult or uncaring, the funeral ceremony can still be kind or celebratory whilst at the same time being honest and truthful.
People don’t want to attend a funeral and come away wondering who I was talking about because my words did not reflect the person they knew so well. But at the same time, it is my responsibility to ensure sincerity and credibility for all parties and that can be achieved with kind and honest words.
It is also so important to reflect the loved one’s own philosophy on life after death. If they believe that life ends at their death, that is what needs to be reflected in closing a ceremony. Alternatively, if they believe in an afterlife that means guaranteed reuniting with other passed relatives, that should be shared and stated as it is an important element of a person’s belief in their final journey and destination.
One thing is for sure, no lives are ever the same and therefore no funeral ceremonies should ever be the same.